What is potash?
Potash is the generic name for any of several compounds containing potassium, including potassium sulfate (K2SO4), potassium-magnesium sulfate (K2SO4-MgSO4), potassium nitrate (KNO3), potassium carbonate (K).2CO3), potassium oxide (K.)2O), and potassium chloride (KCl).
All these compounds are mainly used in the manufacture of fertilizers.
The word potash is derived from the Dutch word potashchen, which means the ashes of the pot.
- Farmers around the world depend on potash as a nutrient for their crops.
- It is also used as an ingredient in soap, glass and ceramics.
- Eastern Europe is currently the largest producer of potash, but Canada has the largest reserves.
Potash can refer to any mined or manufactured salt that contains potassium in a water-soluble form. Potash was historically made by saturating wood ash in water and then heating the mixture in an iron pot until the liquid evaporates, leaving behind a white residue called potash.
The ash is still used in the manufacture of fertilizer, soap, glass and ceramics.
Potassium is the seventh most commonly found element in our planet’s crust, but it needs to be refined before it can be used. Potash has been used to make materials such as glass and soap since about 500 AD. The American potash industry began in the 18th and 19th centuries when settlers cleared forests to plant crops. They burned the excess wood and sold the ash to make soap or boil it into potash.
Pearl ash, which is made by burning a substance familiar to bakers as cream of tartar, is similar to potash. The burning process produces potassium carbonate, a more refined version of potash. Also known as salts of tartar, pearl ash was historically made by burning and refining potash.
trading in potash
Potash contains water-soluble potassium, which helps plants grow. As a fertilizer, this nutrient helps farmers improve the taste, texture, color, yield and water retention of their crops.
Common crops dependent on potash include maize, rice, wheat and cotton. There is no substitute for potash as a fertilizer. The most common types of potash used include:
- Potassium Chloride (KCl)
- Potassium Sulphate or Sulphate of Potash (SOP)
- Potassium Magnesium Sulfate (SOPM)
According to the US Geological Service (USGS), the estimated value of marketable potash in 2020 was $430 million. About 85% of it was used as fertilizer. Most of the imported potash used in the US comes from Canada.
Investors can buy potash through trading companies involved in the mining and refining of potash. These companies include Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT), Agrium (AGU), and Mosaic (MOS), all of which trade on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Farmers around the world use potash, and futures are available for potash, which is listed as potassium chloride.
Potash reserves and production
Potash deposits have been common in areas with shallow seas since ancient times. As the Earth developed and water depleted, the salts that make up potash, a mixture of potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl), were left behind. Over time, the changing surface of the Earth buried most of these reserves deep in the Earth’s crust.
In its raw form, potash deposits exist around the world. The countries of Belarus, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Jordan and Russia together produce 93.9% of the world’s potash.
The number one potash producing region is Eastern Europe. However, Canada has the largest reserves. In the US, potash is produced in New Mexico and Utah.
Several methods can be used to produce potash. However, in mass production, two methods prevail:
- The evaporation method requires the addition of hot water to the potash. The potash dissolves and comes to the surface. The excess water evaporates, forming a concentrated substance.
- Disruptive mining involves the recovery of potash-rich deposits from deep well mines. The potash is then passed through a grinding process and ground into a powder.